Regarding the Oct. 24 article about Medicaid and data tracking (“Better care and lower costs”): When I was a rotating intern at Hennepin County General Hospital in 1965, there was a not-so-secret list kept by the nurses at the emergency room registration desk to profile repeat ER users. It went by the (politically incorrect) name of “The GOMER List,” standing for Get Out of My Emergency Room.

Over the years our safety-net hospital changed its name to Hennepin County Medical Center, and since Obamacare and Medicare ACOs, is less well known as the Hennepin Health ACO (see

The GOMER List featured frequent visitors to the ER who were, for the most part, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill and homeless people. Almost all were lonely, and some wanted to raise hell (especially on Saturday night). The GOMERs stopped by for a chat, and many were escorted by the police.

I’m aware of no technical reason why in 2016 we cannot profile people who engage in frequent “emergency” or urgent health-care encounters, and after (compassionately) screening the situation, divert them to appropriate and less expensive venues and personnel. In 1965, most of us didn’t know what a computer was. And, as physicians, we didn’t know the costs of anything we were doing or not doing.

In 1965, there was little we and the nurses could do except to chat and delay for those on the GOMER List. It seems that little has changed in 2016.

Dr. Lee H. Beecher, Maple Grove

The writer is president of the Minnesota Physician-Patient Alliance.


Take ‘psychic income’ into account for upper management

Great to see the front-page article “Nonprofits model higher pay” (Oct. 24). In my circles of nonprofit management for the past 50 years, that’s always a “no-brainer” for people in lower and middle management. Nonprofits need talent to run the place efficiently to give the donors full value.

But the issue is how much upper management should be paid. From Aristotle to a more modern management guru, Peter Drucker, the industry has argued that executives in the nonprofit sector should get less because they are getting “psychic income” for their noble community work. Drucker even threw out the figure that executives should get about 65 percent, or $65,000, for a job that would pay $100,000 in the for-profit field.

I highly subscribe to a lower pay for executives, because the “psychic income” is real.

I hope the Star Tribune does an article on the debate in the nonprofits about salaries for upper management.

Joe Selvaggio, Minneapolis

The writer is chair of the board at MicroGrants.


News items should encourage you to be part of democracy

As we remember the life of Tom Hayden, the antiwar activist and Students for a Democratic Society organizer who died Sunday, I am reminded of his advocacy for what he called “participatory democracy.” In truth, I don’t believe a democracy can be successful unless it is a participatory democracy, and when I see the discouragingly low voter turnouts in this country, I keep thinking about Abraham Lincoln’s memorable reference to a government of the people, by the people and for the people and wonder how we can get that to happen in the U.S. instead of a government of the dollar, by the dollar and for the dollar. Some suggest we should make voting mandatory, as in Australia, where a fine is imposed on people who do not vote. But I just want to take this opportunity to urge all citizens to vote in this very important upcoming election. Voting is a privilege, but also a responsibility. Vote Nov. 8!

Eleanor Wagner, Edina

• • •

Rely on your vote, not on polls that can mislead or lull you into a false sense of destiny. Colombians very recently were shocked when their referendum on peace was defeated, even though polls suggested peace was a forgone conclusion. So there a 50-year-plus war did not end as expected, and no one knows what is next. In the U.K., the Brexit vote was another shock, with the morning after reported to be full of regrets and Google searches essentially asking “What have we done”?

Our upcoming election has too much at stake to lay back. Make your voice heard. It should feel good!

Steve McCarney, Madison Lake, Minn.


Goettel is wrong, Scallen Failor right for Hennepin County

In response to the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Richfield Mayor Debbie Goettel in the race for the District 5 seat on the Hennepin County Board (Oct. 25): Goettel was helpless and hopeless when 2,300 Richfield residents were forcibly displaced from 698 naturally occurring affordable housing units in October 2015. This was the Crossroads at Penn across from Best Buy. A tenant clean sweep was accomplished easily with the cooperation, and even encouragement, of the Richfield City Council, city staff and Mayor Goettel. No replacement housing was ever offered. No just-cause evictions. No extensions were offered when May 31, 2016, rolled around and 140 school-aged children lost their home-school settings. What was allowed to happen created a severely disparate impact upon protected classes, and is currently in federal court as a tenant class action against a property owner who has been quoted in the Star Tribune as saying: “When you get to the point where things are so run down you attract undesirable residents. You get to the point where good, responsible people don’t want to live in these apartments.” (“Upmarket move sparks resident lawsuit,” Feb. 3, 2016.)

The only help Goettel and her housing authority offered was helping several thousand members of the workforce to leave Richfield, ridding herself and this developer of those pesky poor. Is it just me, or did she simply drop her housing planks from the platform upon which she now stands in aspiration to our Hennepin County Commission? How convenient for her. But not at all for the 2,300.

Lindalee Soderstrom, Bloomington

The writer is president of the Crossroads Tenants Rights Organization.

• • •

Would you vote for someone who has obsessively voted to spend taxpayer money to fund a band shell while knowing Hennepin County taxpayers had already funded another one in her city about a mile away? Is it OK for someone to take credit for a Cedar Avenue underpass at 77th Street that was proposed and financed twice by the previous administration and former U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo (although funds were diverted for projects deemed more critical at the time)?

Sorry, editors. As a 50-year Richfield resident, I believe you made the wrong recommendation for Hennepin County commissioner.

Maureen Scallen Failor has endorsements from current County Board Member Randy Johnson; the mayors of Bloomington and Eden Prairie; the former mayor of Richfield, and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. She worked her way up from the bottom to the top in her family business. She worked on the Hennepin County long-range plan. She is now head of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. She has my vote.

Robert L. Hall, Richfield